FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds of health-conscious kids will take part in a community expo at TCU on Saturday that highlights the benefits of an active lifestyle. It is part of the Kids in the Kitchen program, which was started six years ago by the Junior League of Fort Worth.

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This year, two Fort Worth elementary schools are participating — McLean 6th Grade Center and North Hi Mount Elementary. “We, like, learn how to drink a lot of water,” said McLean student Maggie Hurst, “and how to make that choice instead of soda.”

The entire school is taking part in Kids in the Kitchen, a nationwide program that empowers children to be healthy. “We’re teaching them to make healthy lifestyle choices,” said Lisa Ferrand with the Junior League of Fort Worth. “Today, it can be found at about 200 communities in North America, representing one of the largest grassroots efforts to fight childhood obesity.”

As part of the program, the students have two 10-day challenges; one focuses on drinking more water and the other focuses on adding exercise. “If they drink eight glasses of water, we put a sticker by their name,” said McLean student Ricky Escobedo, “and if they walk 10,000 steps, then they get another sticker by Wild Walk.”

There’s also a three-day challenge that takes into account what the kids eat. It’s called ‘Junk the Junk,’ and it challenges kids to give up junk food and soda in exchange for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

But a healthier body isn’t the only benefit to the program. “Every time they complete a challenge, their name goes in a drawing for sports equipment that they can take home,” said McLean principal Laura Stegall.

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The program’s goal is to reverse the childhood obesity trend in America, one student and one community at a time. “Childhood obesity is one of the largest issues we have today. It is also one of the most costly,” Ferrand said.

“They were also challenged to involve the family in the challenges,” Stegall added, “to make a healthy lifestyle choice for their families as well.”

“It’s kind of healthy for the whole school,” Escobedo said, “and it could affect your whole family.”

Sixth grader Lilli Ingram doesn’t find the challenges too difficult. “It’s pretty easy,” she said of the 10,000-step challenge, “because we rotate a lot in classes and I have basketball and sports.”

The program will conclude this weekend with a health expo at TCU, of which both schools will participate. The event is open to the public.

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